If you weren’t familiar with the name Tyler Dorsey prior to the 2017 NCAA Tournament, the Oregon sharpshooter made himself impossible to ignore during March Madness. He shot a blazing 60 percent from 3-point land as the Ducks made their run to the Final Four, and didn’t score less than 20 points in any of Oregon’s five games, including a 27-point barrage against Kansas in the Elite Eight. Dorsey’s teammate, Dillon Brooks, received much of the love during the regular season, but Dorsey was far and away the star of the tournament.
“I had the hot hand and that’s what my coach needed me to do, score the ball and make plays for my teammates,” Dorsey said.
After just two seasons in Eugene, Dorsey is leaving college hoops behind and entering a guard-heavy 2017 NBA Draft. Despite having to compete with names like Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, De’Aaron Fox and others, Dorsey wasn’t scared off.
We caught up with Dorsey at Impact Basketball in Las Vegas, where he has been training prior to the NBA Combine, to talk about his love of the grind, learning from Giannis and why he says he’s the best guard in this draft.
STACK: What gave you confidence that now was the right time to leave Oregon for the NBA?
Tyler Dorsey: Everybody says it’s a loaded draft, but I still believe that I’m one of the best guards in the draft. I can defend at all three levels and I can also score at all three levels. I can guard the 1 through the 3 that I get switched on to, and I’m a knockdown shooter. That’s my specialty.
What’s been your focus as you’ve been training ahead of the NBA Draft next month?
Just tighten up on a lot of stuff I wanted to tighten up before the Combine. I’m focusing on ball-handling, being a consistent shooter, a knockdown shooter and finishing at the rim. I’m working on everything.
You gained a lot of notoriety for playing out of your mind during Oregon’s run to the Final Four. Do you think that helped your draft stock?
I think it helped us as a team. We had a goal coming into this year of getting back to the Elite Eight and making it to the Final Four. We did end up reaching that goal, so I think at the end of the day, I want to be a winner. I shot a lot, but after every game I wasn’t satisfied. I’d go back to Eugene and get back to shooting 1,000 3s and working on my game. Throughout that run I was putting in a lot of hours behind the scenes. It came easy in the game because I was putting all those shots up after.
That’s a lot of shots. Is that a typical practice routine for you?
My typical practice session at Eugene is: I would come an hour before practice and get a workout in, then stay another 30 minutes after practice and get more shots up. Make about 200 3s. Then I would go to tutoring or class or whatever was on the schedule, and then at night I would come back and make about 500 more 3s on a shooting machine, and just repeat that every day.
You put so many hours in the gym, you know what you’re going to do in the game. That gives me confidence and that builds my confidence. In the game, it comes easy to me. It slows down. I can get my points where I want to and use those moves I’ve been working on. The hours in the gym make the game easy.
I know you also had the chance to train with Giannis Antetokounmpo last summer as a part of the Greek National Team. What lessons did you learn from him?
He has one motor and he goes hard all the time and brings it every day in practice. I learned that from him. He’s just a freaky athlete. He can handle the ball and run the floor great. The great season he had? I saw it coming in practice over the summer, so it wasn’t a surprise to me. I learned just go hard, have that motor and keep it going and push yourself every day.
What’s draft night going to be like for you and your family?
A dream come true. You’ve been dreaming about that as a kid, and I’ve been working toward this my whole life. I’m going to be happy and my family is going to be happy to hear my name get called. It’s going to start a new journey. After you get drafted, everything’s done. Now it’s time to put even more work in and get back in the gym. It will be a happy day, but I’m not going to be satisfied with where I get drafted or who it is. I’m going back into the gym and getting ready.
You’re going to go right back into the gym to get shots up the same night you get drafted?
Not that night (laughing). I’ll enjoy it with my family. But the next day, or the day after that, I’ll probably be back in the gym. I’m just a gym rat and I always want to work on my game. When I take a couple days off, it doesn’t feel right. I gotta do something.
Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty image Sport/Getty Images